Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on June 22, 2022
6 min read

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab are effective tools for treating addiction. Determining which of the two is the better option for you is an important step toward sobriety.

Main Differences between Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient addiction rehab is the level of care. Inpatient rehab provides a higher level of care, as people live at the treatment facility and receive around-the-clock care. Outpatient rehab allows people to live at home while attending treatments during the day.

Inpatient rehab is typically more expensive than outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab also requires a higher level of commitment. People must stay at the treatment facility for the duration of their treatment. Outpatient rehab is less expensive and requires a lower level of commitment.


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What is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient addiction rehab is a type of residential treatment that requires someone to stay at a facility for an extended period. This can be anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual’s needs.

Inpatient rehab is typically more intensive than outpatient treatment. It allows people to focus solely on their recovery without the distractions of everyday life. Also, it provides 24-hour care and supervision. This is beneficial for those struggling with adjusting to a sober life.

The length of stay in an inpatient facility will vary depending on the person’s needs. Some people may need to stay for just a few weeks, while others may need several months of treatment.

What to Expect in Inpatient Rehab

If you’re considering inpatient residential rehab, it’s important to know what to expect. This type of treatment can be very beneficial for those struggling with addiction. However, you must prepare yourself for the experience. 

In inpatient addiction rehab you can expect:

  • Detoxification
  • Therapy
  • Group Support 
  • Aftercare

Who is a Good Candidate for Inpatient Rehab

There are many factors to consider when determining if inpatient addiction rehab is the best option for you or your loved one. These include the severity of the addiction, any underlying mental health disorders, and whether there’s a history of relapse.

Inpatient rehab is often recommended for those with a severe addiction and haven’t been able to successfully quit on their own. It’s also recommended for those who have relapsed after previous attempts at quitting.

Those who have underlying mental health disorders may also benefit from inpatient rehab. This is because these disorders can make it difficult to successfully manage an addiction. Inpatient rehab provides structure and support needed to help those with mental health disorders overcome their addiction.

What is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient addiction rehab offers many of the same treatment methods and therapies as inpatient rehab but on a less intensive level. People in outpatient programs typically live at home and attend treatment during the day or evening hours.

This type of care is often recommended for people with a strong support system at home. They must be highly motivated to recover. Some have already completed a more intensive treatment program.

Outpatient rehab treatment typically includes some combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and 12-step meetings. Treatment is focused on helping the person develop healthy coping skills and avoid triggers that could lead to relapse.

What to Expect in Outpatient Rehab

If you're considering outpatient rehab, here are some things you can expect:

  • Focus on recovery goals
  • Access to addiction professionals
  • Flexibility
  • Step-down from inpatient care

Who is a Good Candidate for Outpatient Rehab

Many different people struggling with addiction benefit from an outpatient treatment program. If you have a strong support system in place and are motivated to stay sober, outpatient care may be right for you.

However, certain factors may make someone a better candidate for outpatient treatment, including:

  • Having a less severe addiction
  • Having a strong support system
  • Being highly motivated to stay sober
  • Being able to attend regular therapy sessions and meetings
  • Having difficulty affording an inpatient program
  • Lacking the ability to focus on structured treatment 24-7
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Costs of Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab generally costs more than outpatient rehab, although the exact amount depends on factors such as: 

  • Length of stay
  • Location of the facility
  • Type of treatment offered

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, the least expensive inpatient rehab is $6,000 per month. The cheapest outpatient program is $5,000 for 3 months.1

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Pros and Cons of Each Type of Rehab

There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of rehab. For example:

Pros and Cons of Inpatient Rehab


Inpatient rehab provides around-the-clock care and supervision. This can be beneficial for people struggling with severe addiction or have a high risk of relapse.

An inpatient addiction treatment program can also be helpful for people who need medical detoxification. Detoxing from some substances, such as alcohol, can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Inpatient rehab facilities provide the medical care and supervision needed to safely detox from drugs and alcohol.

Inpatient rehab can also be beneficial for people who need a higher level of structure and support than outpatient programs.


Inpatient rehab is often very expensive. It can cost thousands of dollars per month, which may not be affordable for everyone.

Inpatient rehab can also be very disruptive to your life. You’ll have to uproot yourself and go to a treatment facility for an extended period. This can be difficult for some people, especially if they have families or jobs.

Pros and Cons of Outpatient Rehab


Outpatient substance use treatment has many benefits, including flexibility and cost savings. People can continue to live at home and go to work or school while attending treatment. Outpatient care is also typically less expensive than inpatient care.


Outpatient rehab can also be more challenging than inpatient care. People need to be highly motivated to succeed. They receive the structure and support that an inpatient program provides. There is also a greater risk of relapse for people in outpatient programs.

Effectiveness of Each Type of Rehab

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are effective for treating drug or alcohol addiction. The right one for you depends on your addiction and your specific circumstances. 

Effectiveness of Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient addiction rehab is effective for people struggling with addiction. It provides a safe and structured environment for people to detox from drugs and alcohol. Inpatient rehab also offers a higher level of care than outpatient rehab. It can be beneficial for people struggling with a more severe addiction.

Effectiveness of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient addiction rehab can be an effective treatment option for those struggling with substance use and can’t commit to inpatient treatment. 

While outpatient treatment isn’t a cure, it can help individuals to abstain from drug use and live a healthy, productive life. There are many different types of programs, so it’s important to find one that is right for you. If you’re considering outpatient addiction rehab, be sure to speak with your doctor or a treatment professional first.

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Updated on June 22, 2022
5 sources cited
Updated on June 22, 2022
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Average Cost of Drug Rehab [2022]: By Type, State & More.” NCDAS.
  2. Benefits of a 12-Step Based Program for Addiction Recovery.” Ohio Addiction Recovery Center, 26 Sept. 2018.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2019.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drug Addiction Treatment in the United States.” National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  5. Intensive Addiction Program - Addiction Services in Minnesota - Mayo Clinic.” Cleveland Clinic. “Drug Addiction: Substance Abuse, Substance Use Disorder, Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, 2020.

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